…Dammit, this is actually the first chapter of a novel. I hate it when that happens.
Our opposite number from the Other Side was one of the ones who don’t bother with a distinct gender: ‘Call me Pat,’ she had said, with nary a bobble in her happy smile when I treated her like a human woman and Jack treated Pat like a human man. “I assume that is the Hellspawn traitor responsible for all this?” she said, looking benignly on the quivering Blasphemous Tome.
“The one and the same,” I said, almost as genially. “I assume you’ll won’t want us to save you a slice?”
The smile didn’t flicker “Oh, no, Ms. Alap. I wouldn’t be able to take any nourishment from it. One mustn’t be Greedy!”
“Naturally, Ms. Pat.” I was half-tempted to flip my gender-assuming every other sentence, just to see what kind of rise I might get, but then I’m acting just like Pat surely was expecting me to, right? Best to be a straight professional, and annoy her that way. If I could.
Look, we’re not buddies with the Other Side; we just stopped fighting. It’s like a somewhat amiable divorce where we’re still stuck with having regular contact with each other. All the grievances have been aired, there are no ongoing disputes, and sometimes we still might need to do things together — but the divorce still happened for a reason, and both sides are convinced that they’re the aggrieved parties.